Havre des Pas is a suburb of St Helier that has been touched by a number of different industries. Shipbuilding was an obvious early influence, agriculture was important when there was space for gardens and greenhouses and it was also touched by military aspects with the proximity of the Town Hill and battery at Fort d’Auvergne. Into the twentieth century tourism became the major force with hotels and guesthouses dominating the area.
One of the earliest buildings in the area was a chapel that existed from around the twelfth century. It was destroyed in 1814 to clear the area below the new Fort Regent. The chapel was in the area of La Collette Flats.
The Chapelle des Pas is mentioned in the early States minutes from 1666 as the lodgings of a battalion commanded by Major Hinshaw. Hinshaw and the Governor of the time Lord Jermyn were at odds because his troops had come from London, which had been hit by plague, but they were refusing to conform to the quarantine that locals were forced to abide by and were causing chaos around the Island. In the minutes the States reiterated their confidence in the sage advice and counsel of the Governor.
It was not until the nineteenth century that Havre des Pas really began to develop. The 1795 Richmond Map shows sparse dwellings although the Garde du Havre des Pas, built in the 1780s at the location of the Fort d’Auvergne Hotel, is in place at this point. Green Street and Roseville Street are shown but they were largely surrounded by agricultural land that was used for various crops, including orchards.
The Godfray Map of 1849 shows the seafront developing, shipbuilding was a major industry in the area at the time, but the area behind Havre des Pas is still largely undeveloped with fields dominating at this stage.
It wasn’t until the turn of the nineteenth century that major development took place. The superintendent of the district of Havre des Pas in the 1891 census notes in his return, “Many houses have been built in this district during the last ten years. It has become the fashionable quarter of the town and many families have taken their residence in it.”
An 1896 guidebook describes the area in this way, “On the sea front eastward of the harbours of St Helier, what was until recently but a cluster of fishermen’s cottages has now developed into an important and fashionable suburb, with some of the finest private houses in the Island.”
An iconic development at the end of the nineteenth century was the Jersey Swimming Club bathing pool. The club itself was set up in 1865 after an incident at Havre des Pas involving two young boys. Helier Le Ray, aged about 13 years of Jersey, and Edwin Skelley, a native of Devon who was almost 12, were drowned whilst swimming. The sea was perfectly calm and was less than seven feet in depth but more than 20 men witnessed the boys struggling without attempting a rescue as they were unable to swim. The club was formed a couple of months later with the intention to remedy this by providing lifesaving equipment and advice to the public and teaching as many people as possible how to swim.
One of their crowning glories was the opening of the bathing pool on 22 May 1895. Originally the pool was supposed to be just for ladies with the club intending to build another for men at La Collette but this idea was soon abandoned. The pool became a mixed venue and has since been frequented by thousands of both locals and visitors.
Hotels dominated the Havre des Pas area into the twentieth century. The site of the Marina Hotel has an interesting history. It was converted into a boarding house at the turn of the twentieth century by Nathaniel Nicholls. Nicholls was a boarding house keeper from Cornwall. His lack of knowledge of local laws is illustrated when in 1905 he can be found in the Magistrate’s Court selling liquor without a licence. He was found with over 100 bottles of claret, ale, cider and a stock of champagne. He claimed that as he was not selling the alcohol for profit but at cost price so he should be exempt from needing the licence but this plea fell on deaf ears and he was fined £10.
It is noted that someone informed on Nicholls and looking at his next door neighbour may give a clue as to who the guilty party may be. Behind the Marina was a Mission Room for St Luke’s Church built by Reverend Philip Richard Pipon Braithwaite in the late nineteenth century. It remained in the hands of St Luke’s Church until 1928, by which time it had fallen into disuse and was sold to William Shierd Hirst, who owned the hotel.
Prior to the hotel the contracts refer to the Marina as the Aquarium. This refers to a biological station that was set up by local naturalist Joseph Sinel and his son-in-law James Hornell. The biological station was opened on 22 May 1893 by the Bailiff. The building was on three stories, which consisted of an aquarium that was open to the public on the bottom floor and was accessible for 6d with offices and laboratories on the other floors.
Another major construction that affected the area of Havre des Pas was the building of the Jersey Eastern Railway. Work began on the line in 1872. The railway went from the terminus at Snow Hill, sweeping past the foot of Green Street Cemetery and crossed a bridge that ran over Roseville Street and Cleveland Road before going to originally Georgetown Station and then later to St Luke’s. The wall on which the railway ran is still evident and a house on the corner of Croydon Road and Cleveland Road that was previously called Bridge Cottage but is now called La Pèpinière hints at its previous existence.
Although generally a sedate area Havre des Pas sometimes saw more troubled situations. The night of 18-19 September 1845 saw one such incident. The shops ran by Anne Pearce situated near Havre des Pas and that of Josue Noel in Roseville Street were broken into and a number of items were taken including 13 dozen eggs, cheese, bread and tobacco. The quartet of William Sampson, Edouard Anquetil, William Gillet and Richard Joyles were arrested on 11 October by Centenier Chevalier.
It wasn’t the first time that Anquetil, Gillet and Sampson had been in trouble. They appear in the court and prison records multiple times from as early as 12 years of age when Anquetil was sentenced to 8 days solitary confinement for theft. Sampson was whipped at least 3 times by the time that he was 14.
Sampson and Anquetil pleaded their innocence, Gillet admitted the charge and Richard Joyles turned informer for the court. Sampson, Anquetil and Gillet were all sentenced to 7 years transportation. Anquetil and Sampson were sent on the John Calvin to Van Diemen’s Land and Norfolk Island on 9 May 1846. Gillet followed later on the Joseph Somes to Van Diemen’s Land and Port Phillip on 2 June 1847.
This article only touches on some of the stories of Havre des Pas. If you would like to find out more, the Jersey Archive will be hosting a talk at 10am on Saturday 18th April as part of the ‘What’s Your Street’s Story?’ project.
The Archive is open from 9-1 on the 18th April to encourage you to come and find out more about the history and people of your area. If you would like to book your place on the talk please call Jersey Archive on 833300.
‘What’s your Street’s Story?’ is a community project. This article on Havre des Pas reflects the research and hard work of a group of 6 volunteers.